Vancouver’s pot activists have come a long way since Marc Emery opened his Hemp BC store in 2004. After years of high-profile arrests, closures, re-openings, and seeing Emery locked-up in a US federal prison- the city is now home to more medical marijuana dispensaries than BC Liquor stores.
It’s common knowledge that the majority of pot bought from “medical” dispensaries is used for recreation- despite this, the City of Vancouver recently made the controversial decision to legitimize dispensaries with a new licensing program. The new regulations, virulently opposed by the federal government, require a $30,000 licensing fee and require outlets to be no closer than 300 meters to schools, community centres, and other dispensaries.
While 2015 has been a victorious year for marijuana activists, their protests have been less successful. Their annual 4/20 protest in March attracted over 30,000 people, cost $52,000 for policing, and resulted in 64 people being sent to the hospital. Concerned about a replay, the city asked activists to hold-back on their Canada Day event. Thumbing their noses, the activists ignored the city’s request and held it regardless. Their insolence turned into a national embarrassment after a damning video was released of a gang of the event’s participants fighting with the police- four people were arrested, including three high-profile pot activists.